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Apple's Best Apps of 2014: Top Free, Paid and Grossing Apps

It's always interesting and valuable to explore Apple's Best of 2014: Top Lists. Below are screenshots of the Top Free, Top Grossing and Top Paid iOS Apps. You'll notice a few things:

Top Free: it's a list dominated by big brands. - Facebook has #1, #4, #5 and #11 with Messenger, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp respective. - Snapchat is #2. - Google has #3, #7, #12 with YouTube, Google Maps and Google. - Pandora is #6. Spotify is #9.

Top Paid: There is some variety here, Of the top 20 - 14 are games - 4 are Photo and Video - 2 Health and Fitness

Top Grossing: This gets slightly more interesting. - All of the top grossing applications feature in-app purchases. - Games still dominate: 18 of the top 20 are games. - Pandora is #3 overall and the only of the Top Grossing to also be a Top Free app. - Zoosk is the lone other top 20 app that is not a game. - Of the games, big names matter: King owns 3 of hte top 8 apps and SuperCell has 3 of the top 11

best of itunes 2014

Android / Google Play Top Grossing Apps

Google Play's Top Paid and Top Grossing App lists look quite different. Not only are there different inhabitants (Electronic Arts, for instance, has four of the top ten Paid Apps but none of the top ten grossing apps) - the business models and interactive models are obviously different.

Here are screenshots of each list - Top Grossing is fascinating and shows that two gaming companies (Supercell and King) dominate that list:

Top 8 Grossing Apps:

Supercell: #1. Clash of Clans #5. Hay Day #16. Boom Beach

King: #2. Candy Crush (#8 in Top Free Apps) #4. Farm Heroes #6. Bubble Witch (#12 in Top Free Apps) #7. Pet Rescue

Top Paid Android Apps

Android Top Grossing Apps

Android / Google Play: Top Free Apps

Messaging rules the app stores these days... as does Facebook. Here is a screenshot of the Google Play Store's Top Free Apps: #1. Facebook Messenger #2. Facebook #4. Instagram (Facebook) #5. Snapchat ... #9. Skype #10. Kik #13. Twitter #16. WhatsApp

Notable others: music has #3 and #11 with Pandora and Spotify, respectively. King has games at #8 and #12 with Candy Crush and Bubble Witch 2. And Netflix is #7.

Android Top Free Apps

ESPN, Google & World Cup Highlights in Search Results

Yesterday, Google and ESPN combined to deliver real-time video highlights directly into Google search results via Google's homepage, World Cup related search queries and Google's new World Cup page, and so on. This integration will be live during the entire 2014 World Cup - meaning soccer fans can find their highlights.

- on ESPN.com & ESPNFC.com, ESPN's suite of mobile apps - on social media through integrations like Twitter Cards that play directly in-line and are sharable and embeddable - and now on Google and directly within search results

At ESPN, our mission is simply to serve sports fans, anytime and anywhere. This is another great, big step in that direction with our partners at Google.

World Cup 2014 Google and ESPN

Press coverage (as represented by Techmeme):

Chris Welch / The Verge: Google and ESPN partner to put World Cup highlights in search — If you're stuck in a cubicle at work and unable to watch every minute of the World Cup, Google and ESPN will at least help you keep up with the latest highlights. The two companies have teamed up to pair both in-progress …

More: The Official Google Blog, Re/code, GeekWire, The Next Web, eWeek, LAPTOP Magazine, Gigaom and Quartz

googlesearch world cup

Hello SportsCenter App & 8 Takeaways

On Thursday, we launched the new SportsCenter Application, an update to ESPN's existing and popular ScoreCenter application. With 50m downloads and millions of daily users, ScoreCenter is certainly successful and our hallmark application. We didn't set out to replace it; rather, we set out to expand the experience and better present the vast array of content that makes ESPN so special: video, articles, imagery, television clips, social activity, statistics, and more. You can get it here: - for iOS: http://es.pn/scapp - for Android: http://es.pn/scappandroid - Or, dial **SC from your cell phone

sportscenter app

A handful of product highlights

- Scores / News / Now: ScoreCenter delivered scores and stats... SportsCenter does that alongside News (video, highlights, articles, analysis) and ESPN Now (tweets and live scores) - SportsCenter's Best Of: The SportsCenter Tab is the best stuff of the day (games, breaking news, analysis), merged with your favorite team scores. - Personalization & Inbox: The focus of the app is on delivering a personalized experience through alerts, favorite teams, and the new Fan Inbox (which is a personalized feed of your favorite teams' news, highlights and scoring alerts). - Clubhouses: My favorite enhancement is the introduction of Team Clubhouses. Fans can quickly access each team's scoreboard, newsfeed and social feed... and set alerts directly within the Clubhouse.

Here is a screenshot of the Duke Football Clubhouse which is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it is relatively long-tail content that would not elevate to the national level - but it is important to me. Second, the content is fantastic. These are in-game highlights, streaming live into the feed seconds after they occur on the field. It's a tremendous experience that is highly personalized.

duke clubhouse

That's the new app. I hope you download it, enjoy it and pass along feedback. I also thought it would be worthwhile to share some takeaways:

It's a Mobile World

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about ESPN's recent digital patterns. September was a record month for ESPN in three ways: 1. we saw record overall traffic 2. during that period, more fans accessed ESPN via mobile than desktop 3. over 36% of users accessed ESPN exclusively via mobile

It's a mobile world. The focus on re-imagining ScoreCenter was predicated on better serving our fans in an increasingly mobile world. And if you haven't done so already, read Benedict Evan's Mobile is Eating the World deck.

It's a Native Mobile World

It's a mobile world... but it's also a native world for applications. Long gone are the days or porting a single app from platform to platform. Users don't want this... and neither do the platforms themselves. Experiences have to be built and designed specifically for the platform and the device portfolio. The challenge of course is to maintain brand familiarity and consistency while also designing differently and specifically for each platform. It's a difficult but critical balance.

Native also applies to platforms beyond the mobile operating systems (ie iOS, Android, etc). For instance, we took care to make sure that the application leverages native integrations with Twitter and Facebook - both within the application and within their own platforms. This, for instance, is a screenshot of the new Twitter Card integration:

twitter cards

Disrupt Yourself

AllThingsD wrote a nice piece on the SportsCenter launch entitled: "ESPN ScoreCenter App Is a Hit, but It’s Getting an Overhaul Anyway: New Name, More Video, More Stuff". It's an important mentality: don't wait for something to break before considering / forcing change. The world changes too fast - technology, platforms, standards, habits - to sit still.

Scaled, Pre-launch Distribution and Usage

Between services like TestFlight and Google Beta, it is relatively painless to distribute pre-launch builds and collect usage data / feedback from large numbers of relevant users. It's the purest form of user-testing and user-feedback. For SportsCenter, somewhere around 1,500 fans played with the application ahead of launch. Others like Facebook are doing that at grand scale using the Google Beta program:

facebook google play

Press as Pre-Launch Users

My friend Matt Schlicht of Hipset recently wrote a nice Medium piece about driving press for your startup. My strong opinion here: treat everyone as a user and a fan. SportsCenter received some excellent coverage and those writers had access to the test builds of the application for several days (or more). That translates into more organic coverage (good or bad), deep insight, and some unique perspectives. It is also how pieces like Ryan Lawler's on TechCrunch get written - where he had a fantastic, in-depth usage video.

Advice: trust that your product is high-quality and give users and writer's full, early access.

A couple other pieces: - TechCrunch: ESPN’s SportsCenter App Combines News And Highlights With New Personalization Features - AllThingsD: ESPN ScoreCenter App Is a Hit, but It’s Getting an Overhaul Anyway: New Name, More Video, More Stuff - PandoDaily: ESPN Launches Personalized SportsCenter Feed Web App, Proves It Just Gets Digital - AdAge: This Is 'SportsCenter'...on Your iPhone

Twitter As Real-Time Customer Service

This is obvious for most: Twitter is immensely powerful as a real-time insights and customer support platform. During launch, we were seeing 50+ tweets per minute. Between sentiment tracking, bug monitoring and usage habits - we had an immediate understanding of how fans were engaging and interacting. This isn't shocking to anyone... but one point worth noting: I have spent a lot of time responding to tweets of all ranges: positive, negative, open questions, etc. Users were almost always happy to hear from someone connected to the product. Feedback was universally helpful and, even when a user was unhappy, the outcome was positive.

It's Iterative

There are things we got wrong. There are things we had to cut due to time. And there are things we didn't get to but are on the roadmap.

It's an iterative process. It has to be... in part because user feedback will dictate changes and time won't allow for everything to built. The challenge is determining what viable release requirements are... and communicating iteration to users.

I'm Old

Along with the core team, we read every single tweet. The big lesson: my vocabulary is very out of date, emoji are king, and I'm clearly old.

twitteremoji

Google's Moto X: Hardware + Software Customization

I am a big fan of personalized products like NikeID (including both my running sneakers and golf shoes) and their corresponding web / application experiences. The latest Google Android device - the Moto X - combines hardware and software customization in a way that only Google can do. It's very well done. The Moto X can be purchased online at Google's Play store (Moto Maker). There, users customize three aspects of the phone: styling (color, shell, etc), features and accessories. The hardware customizations are relatively obvious - but also fun in a way that is similar to shopping on NikeID.

The unique part: users can attach their Google ID by authenticating their Google login. This then enables users to customize the software (ie backgrounds and welcome messages). It also enables Google to deliver an authenticated phone already connected with a user's synced apps, contacts, etc. In effect: once the user inputs his / her password, it's a fully custom phone from appearance to application / content.

motox

motox2

Mailbox and Innovation Around the Mailbox

I have intentionally attempted to shift my mobile habits to take advantage of new, well-done applications. I tried to replace iOS's safari with Google's Chrome application. And now I am trying to replace the core iOS mail app with Mailbox. In trying to do so, three obvious points come along: 1. There is much innovation to be done around core experiences. Ones that come to mind: MessageMe for messaging, Mailbox for mail, Chrome for browser, Tempo for calendar, etc.

2. It is really hard to break personal habits. Regardless of whether or not I prefer Chrome to Safari - I am rooted historically and routinely in Safari. I like the Chrome browser a lot, but find the littlest things annoying - not because they are poorly designed or created, but because they are different than where I habitually expect them to be.

This of course is in conflict with point #1 above: innovation challenges habit. And habits are hard to break.

3. It is far harder (nearly impossible?) to break device habits. What I mean by this: if you really prefer Mailbox to iOS mail - you have to go out of your way to use it as a default... and it is even more challenging in the Chrome example. Being built into the core OS is such a huge hurdle to overcome - and while it may not stifle innovation, it stifles adoption.

Of course it is different from OS to OS (Android's flexibility is why apps like SwiftKey are so great and so popular) - and even more complicated with various device / hardware layers.

mailbox app

Google Search, Inline Weather

It's the first time I have searched for weather on something other than my phone... which is interesting itself. But tonight, I Googled weather 06001 (our zip code) and found the following screenshot of an entirely contained, smart weather 'widget'. It's an example of Google delivering a simple, fast experience with instantaneous satisfaction. No reason to leave the search page. No need to click organic or sponsored links. And consistent with how Google behaves on mobile web and within Google Now on Android.

Google Weather Widget

Google's High End Chromebook Pixel

Let me preface by saying that I am typing this on a Macbook (15" Retina) and love the device. And I have previously not been attracted to the Chromebook series for a variety of reasons: namely form, function and unclear ability to replace either my laptop or iPad. But the Chromebook Pixel is different - and I would argue much more important... regardless of whether you consider it attractive or compelling.

Four quick reasons I think it is important to at least learn more about the Pixel. Note: The best write up I found was on The Verge.

1) Google is getting in the high-end hardware game. You may not buy it and you may find it expensive: but it's great looking, matches the retina display, etc. And it signifies a very different move for Google: both in market placement and market entry (see Google Store rumors here).

2) It is entirely cloud based. This continues the Chromebook line and concept. And the pricing has caused debate considering the reliance on cloud. But again: it's important because it signifies a major shift: browser base, software in the cloud (my take here - even on Apple) and tie in to Google's wider world (ie google drive as the memory)

3) SIM card enabled. My biggest want in my laptop is LTE. It's coming of course and will be everywhere. The Pixel has it first.

4) It is touch enabled. And seems to do a good job with that. Like point 3 above, its coming everywhere. But again: the Pixel has it. And again, whether you want to buy a Google laptop or not, it is important in what it represents: cloud, mobility and touch.

Google Chromebook Pixel